19 March 2012

Red Thumb (Cynomorium coccineum) - Dhahran Hills

The Red Thumb (Cynomorium coccineum) is a parasitic, leafless plant without chlorophyll. It is a fleshy, reddish, club-shapped perennial herb that can grow up to 30 centimetres high and is parasitic on the roots of desert shrubs. It is only visible above ground during its spring flowering period. The flowering stems may emerge from the ground singly but more often they are grouped several together. The interflorescence is dark-red to purplish and is made up of minute scarlet flowers which may be male or female. Flies are attracted by the smell given off from the plant and are thought to be pollinators of the plant whihc once pollinated turns black. They grow on sandy, saline, ground with this plant photogrpahed in Dhahran camp near the percolation pond. The plant is known as 'tarthuth' by the Bedouin and is also known as Maltese Fungus and Desert Thumb and is used in many herbal medicines around the world.